Kim or Matt related December 28th, 2012
As in, my macarons have them. Finally. Apparently, fourth time’s the charm.
In the interests of full disclosure, my previous batch of macarons also had feet, but they were so undercooked, one had to scrape them off the parchment paper with a knife and eat them off said knife, so I didn’t exactly count them as a rousing success.
If you care to hear more about my macaron adventure, it’s after the jump. Otherwise, aren’t they pretty? They taste good, too.
As per usual with French pastry, the keys to macarons are technique and practice. (Research helped, too.) Matt and I (I, mostly) spent a not insignificant amount of time reading articles like The Seventeen Things You Absolutely MUST Know About Making Macarons (no link, because I made it up) and watching videos in French and English (the former were typically more interesting, probably because I like listening to French) and my takeaway, for what it’s worth, is this:
Much of the hype around macarons is superstition.
Here’s my contribution: What worked for us (at least, the fourth time around)
- I really like this recipe, even though it commits the cardinal baking sin of using volumetric measurements and the proportions aren’t classic.
- I “aged” the egg whites by microwaving them for 30 seconds in 10 second intervals. I read somewhere that this evaporates some water, thus concentrating the egg white, as well as brings it to room temperature. I’m not sure whether this makes a difference or not, but not being above superstition myself, I’m going with it.
- Matt, who is always in charge of egg whites, beat them to stiff peaks, minus just a smidge. (We used the aforementioned videos to determine what the egg whites should look like.)
- To compensate for my lousy pastry-bag filling skills, I undermixed the batter a touch, figuring the extra manhandling into the pastry bag would finish the job. (Those videos? Also what we used to decide what the batter should look like, as I, for one, have never seen “slow-moving lava” except on TV, and even then, I didn’t pay that much attention.
- Apparently, the key to macaron feet is ensuring the batter dries a bit before popping into the oven. The shells need to be dry to the touch. Humidity is detrimental to the drying process, and it’s been raining here for a week. Also, I’m impatient. To alleviate both meteorological and character defects, we dried the shells on the stovetop, with the oven door cracked. Worked like a charm, and brought the drying time down to 10-15 minutes.
I’m very proud of myself. :)